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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Vitaly Churkin: the EU has a finger in the pie

Permanent representative of Russia to the UN Vitaly Churkin told the newspaper OPINION, why Moscow insists on the adoption of a new resolution against glorification of Nazism

November 22, 2010, 09:22

Text: Yuri Zainashev,
Maria Suslikova


“If earlier at a rally of former SS in the Baltic States was attended by representatives of the authorities, in recent years they distanciruemsa from such “gatherings,” he recalled in an interview with the newspaper VIEW, the permanent representative of Russia to the UN Vitaly Churkin. He estimated the moral effect of the Russian initiatives in the UN condemning the glorification of Nazism.

The third Committee of the UN General Assembly last week adopted the draft Russian resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. This resolution was adopted by the sixth year in a row. The authors of the document expressed deep concern over the resurgence of the Nazi movement, whose members build monuments and memorials to former members of the SS, as well as conduct public demonstrations glorifying Nazism.

With Russia co-authors of the document were made by 30 countries. Voted for the document 118 delegates, 55 abstained. In the group of abstentions included the EU, Canada, Japan, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The United States voted against.

The vote in the Committee is a key step in the adoption of the document. In December, the draft resolution entitled “Inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, will be discussed at the plenary meeting. About the prospects for the Russian initiative in an interview with the newspaper LOOK told the permanent representative of Russia to the UN Vitaly Churkin.

OPINION: Vitaly Ivanovich, in the draft resolution “On the inadmissibility of escalation of contemporary forms of racism” obviously refers to countries such as Estonia and Latvia? We will remind that in Estonia are openly praising the Nazis military-sports games, such as “Erna” and the gatherings of veterans of the Estonian SS legions. Similar events regularly take place in the neighbouring Latvia. How, in your opinion, the adoption of the resolution would affect the real situation in the Baltic States?

Vitaly Churkin: First of all I would like to inform you that you mentioned the document on 16 November, was approved in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly dealing with human rights issues. The Russian resolution was voted for by 118 member States, 1 the delegation of the United States – voted against, and 55 countries abstained. In the group of abstentions included, in particular, EU States, Canada, Japan, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The sponsors in addition to Russia were another 30 States from all regions of the world.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but have the character of recommendations. However, if they are adopted by consensus or, as in our case, overwhelmingly, not to reckon with opinion of the international community is quite expensive. Moreover, every year to support the Russian resolution expanding the number of its co-authors.

As regards your question, I should clarify that the text is not directly mentioned any state. However, reading the text of the resolution, everyone immediately understands what kind of state in question. Your question is another confirmation.

Any dealt with in the resolutions of the General Assembly the problem is not abstract, theoretical. All the mentioned phenomena are, unfortunately, take place, not only in the Baltic States. Recall, in particular, about the explosion last year of a monument in honor of those killed in the great Patriotic war in Kutaisi, and it happened almost simultaneously with the adoption of a similar resolution of the General Assembly.

In recent years we have seen a real campaign, aimed at the revision of history and falsification of the part that applies primarily to the outcome of the Second world war.

I would argue that taken at the initiative of Russia since 2005 in the General Assembly resolution – and each time, like this year, we strengthen their text – to influence the situation in those countries where the glorification of Nazism is a particularly active character. Moreover, gradually, though not as dramatically changing attitude to this phenomenon by those States who had preferred this problem to either not notice or not give it much importance.

Here is an example: if before the rallies and marches of former SS was well attended by official representatives of the authorities of the Baltic countries in recent years under the influence of the international community, they prefer to distance themselves from such “gatherings” and not to be missed. Again, although the Russian text of the resolution, no country not directly mentioned, but the States concerned respond to them is extremely painful. So, recognize the resolution itself, and indirectly recognize the presence mentioned in the document problems.

OPINION: since 2005, the U.S. voted against such resolutions, but the representatives of the European Union abstained. It is this balance of power?

V. C.: As I mentioned, in the course held on 16 November in the Third Committee the vote, the position of the EU countries and the USA in comparison with previous years has not changed. And this cannot but cause regret, especially in a year when we celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Second world war, UN agencies and the creation of the Nuremberg Tribunal.

The EU in the UN generally seem to be confronted with a certain “system” issue, its positions at times determined by the lowest “common denominator”. I am sure that many EU countries would have voted in good conscience for our resolution, if not the position of its individual members, who have “a finger in the pie”.

Formal arguments of both the US and European countries are reduced to the fact that the content of our text allegedly infringe upon the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of peaceful Assembly. In other words, holding rallies and marches of former Nazis and neo-Nazis, the glorification of those who defended the theory of racial superiority, considered by the opponents of the Russian resolution as the implementation of those rights.

But let me, in all the existing international treaties on human rights which it is a party and the state, enshrined in black and white that these rights are not absolute, and their use may be limited, in particular, in the interests of security and public order. Moreover, article 4 of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination imposes on States parties the obligation to pursue the dissemination of racist ideas in criminal proceedings.

So what kind of infringement are we talking? Yes, the United States and many Western countries made a reservation to article 4, the meaning of which boils down to the skill of freedom of speech as an absolute right. However, even the Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination monitoring expert body of the Convention is clearly stated about the inadmissibility of such clauses as contrary to the object and purpose of this agreement.

Answering the last part of your question, I would say that the UN’s 192 member States, each of which has one vote. The vote in the General Assembly is absolutely democratic in nature, here all members are equal. So, with all due respect to the voice of the United States, it is not determinative. Every year the support for our resolution is growing, as evidenced, in particular, expanding the number of co-authors of the document. As you know, water wears away the stone”. I hope that over time our American and European partners will find the strength to stand on the side of Justice and Historical truth, which represents the majority of the international community.

OPINION: AT the end of September you spoke at the UN security Council criticism of International coalition forces in Afghanistan, which, according to you, is not enough to effectively counteract the production and distribution of drugs. You managed to convince their American counterparts to intensify the fight against drug trafficking in Afghanistan? What are the chances of increased cooperation after the recent joint us-Russian RAID against drug traffickers in this country?

V. C.: with regard to the international military presence in Afghanistan, we believe that they are called to help solve a range of problems, including curbing the Afghan drug crime. Based on this, Russia holds UN serial line to provide the international community an objective picture that is emerging around the drug in the IRA.

We are convinced that drug crime fused with terrorism has become a threat to peace and stability. As a result of our sequential steps in this way the Afghan drug threat was identified in the October resolution of the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of the International security assistance force in Afghanistan, as well as the resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly earlier this month. All this creates a good Foundation for further expanding cooperation between Russia and its partners in anti-drug operations.

OPINION: on 12 November at the security Council meeting, speaking already about the province of Kosovo, you expressed concern at the continued vandalism against the Serbian shrines in the region. In addition, you condemn the government of the breakaway Republic, which recently opened a new court in Northern Mitrovica, without asking the consent of neither the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) nor the Serbian municipality. Possible legal mechanisms for sanctions to Pristina, in such cases when they directly infringe on the powers of the UN mission in the region?

V. C.: If you mean the creation of a universal mechanism of sanctions in relation to Pristina, then, unfortunately, for today it is unreal. Among the recognized independence of Kosovo countries include UK, USA and France, as permanent members of the UN Security Council have veto power. Therefore, any attempt in the security Council to endorse a solution which would be directed against Pristina, surely they will be blocked.

However, this does not mean that the Kosovo authorities entitled to undertake the mentioned unilateral actions can only complicate the already difficult inter-ethnic situation in the region, especially in its Northern part, dominated by Serbian population. I hope that it is understood in the capitals of those countries that took Kosovo under his secret custody.

OPINION: You personally know the situation in the former Yugoslavia since the beginning of 1990-ies, when I was there as the special representative of the President of Russia and carried out the peacekeeping mission. Noticeable if, in your opinion, indications that after the appointed authorities of the breakaway Republic on December 12 parliamentary elections the situation will improve? Is there any chance that came to power after the December 12, forces will weaken the campaign to discredit UNMIK?

V. C.: the acts of the Kosovo Albanian authorities for the expulsion of the UN Mission from Kosovo – and that’s what we’re seeing in the region, including through the outbreak of a campaign of discrediting her, is completely unacceptable.

UNMIK is in Kosovo in accordance with Security Council mandate, which is provided in its resolution 1244. This resolution has not been canceled, and it continues to be mandatory for all, including the Kosovars, the legal basis for a Kosovo settlement. Therefore, all parties to the conflict, regardless of the particular political situation or the election cycles should continue to cooperate with UNMIK in implementing its mandate. It is the position of the Russian Federation. A similar approach was followed by the UN Secretary-General, as well as the majority of the members of the Security Council.

With regard to the upcoming December 12 elections in Kosovo, especially the delusion on the part of potential change for the better, I would not. In addition, from a legal point of view, these elections cannot be considered legitimate. They shall be convened not by the decision of the special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Kosovo, as required by security Council resolution 1244, and therefore will not be certified by the United Nations. In this regard, the government of Serbia has already stated that it finds itself unable to encourage the Kosovo Serbs to participate in them.

Some hope to change the situation in Kosovo for the better is more likely to carry the upcoming dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which should start in accordance with the September 9 UN General Assembly resolution. However, in this case, much will depend on their willingness to constructively address all the remaining open questions.

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